The Vancouver Island Branch of the Canadian Institution of Marine Engineering and Podium Conferences are to be congratulated for organizing such a successful conference. From the Victoria Conference Centre as the venue and an agenda reflecting the theme of “Honing the Leading Edge” to exhibitors and networking opportunities, Mari-Tech 2018 was the place to be for the maritime industry from April 18 to 20. Indeed, roughly 500 industry representatives were on hand. To follow are a few highlights…(Click here for photos.)
It was standing room only at the Outlook Session hosted by Public Service and Procurement Canada (PSPC) as one of three pre-conference workshops. The session provided an overview of the federal government’s upcoming procurement over the next three years and included areas such as small vessel construction, vessel repair, refit and life extension, vessel chartering, disposal and other special projects in the realm of marine equipment. Federal government representatives on hand included those from the Department of National Defence, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard, Transport Canada, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada. PSPC also held B2G Sessions on both April 18 and 19 for one-on-one engagement between PSPC and industry.
The ProteusDS Workshop, run by Dynamic Systems Analysis, explored a new thruster model used for assessing global performance of vessel motion and a new cable state generator which makes it much easier to create segments, create initial conditions and assign element properties for cables.
And the HydroComp Propeller School, led by Don MacPherson, HydroComp’s Technical Director, looked at how the propeller influences many key vessel operations. The class was divided into three groups who looked at propellers as part of a system; propeller hydrodynamics (thinking like the water and how shape affects performance); and propellers as a component (the purpose for various propeller characteristics).
In his role as Master of Ceremonies, Rear Admiral (Retired) Richard Greenwood did a superb job of keeping speakers on schedule for the full two-day agenda. While space doesn’t permit a full recap of all presentations, we’ve done our best to summarize the highlights…
Mark Collins, President & CEO, BC Ferries
Since taking on the role of President & CEO, Collins has sought greater engagement with communities and more focus on customer relations. “We have 100% brand recognition in British Columbia – most companies kill for that kind of market penetration,” he said, “but negative news sticks and brand awareness in itself is not enough. We are working to increase our brand affiliation – that is, the number of people who believe that our brand aligns with their values, whether those values are related to safety, the environment or interest in the needs of their community.”
In addition to providing a snapshot of operations -- $900 million annual revenue; over 21 million passengers per year; 37 ships; 8.3 million vehicles; and 470 departures per day/172,000 sailings per year – Collins highlighted the importance of BC Ferries’ commercial services that support and enable growth of businesses all along the coast. Not only does BC Ferries move $7 to 8 billion worth of cargo to Vancouver Island every year, including 95 per cent of the food and about 80 per cent of all cargo that reaches the Island, commercial services add $90 million in annual revenues. Along with catering and retail, drop trailer and BC Ferries Vacations, the various revenue streams all go toward supporting the core business of passenger travel.
Following a look at the governance of BC Ferries and a breakdown of revenue sources as well as a how new assets are funded, Collins described the new vision that has been adopted by BC Ferries. “Trusted and valued,” he said. “I believe if we do not operate with an inherent level of trust between us and the communities we serve, we will do nothing but argue and get bogged down in detail and won’t be able to make true progress in meeting community expectations.” He further outlined the mission of connecting communities and customers to the people and places that are important in their lives and that this mission would be carried out in a way that reflects the values that are important to customers – safety, reliability and sustainability.
Collins outlined a number of initiatives that spoke to the implementation of those values: environmental aspects (for example, the conversion of the Spirit Class to LNG); community engagement; employee empowerment; and building a system that will be sustainable in the long term.
Looking at the fleet, Collins noted that the North Island Princess, the oldest vessel in the fleet, will be replaced in 2020. “We have a fleet, that despite an investment of $2.5 billion on new vessels and infrastructure in the last 14 years, that still has ships from the 1950s and 1960s,” he said. “We still have ways to go to get the fleet up to date,” adding that one of the drivers for fleet renewal was interoperability and reducing the number of classes of vessels, estimating that within about 15 years, BC Ferries would go from 17 to about five, including new classes such as the Salish Class; the M47 (a 47-car, diesel-electric hybrid with two to be delivered in late 2019); a replacement for the Bowen Class (with contracts being issued later this year); and a new major to replace the older vessels like the Queen of Coquitlam and Queen of Alberni (at least five vessels to be built with contracts to be issued by 2020 and delivery between 2023 and 2025).
In addition to the new fleet acquisitions, Collins also pointed out that BC Ferries has spent $1.5 billion since 2004 on ship repair. As heavy users of the local industry, he highlighted the importance of the local industry and noted the support of BC Ferries for organizations like the Association of BC Marine Industries and local educational institutions.
Robert Wight, Director General of Major Projects, Canadian Coast Guard
Wight’s presentation, entitled “Seas of Change: Innovation, Learning and Modernization at the Coast Guard,” gave an excellent overview of current activities related to the procurement of major builds for the Canadian Coast. Prefacing his remarks with a note about the Oceans Protection Plan and how the environment, including spill response, has become a much larger focus for the CCG, Wight outlined the current transformation being seen when it comes to building Canada’s fleet.
Like BC Ferries, CCG is moving to a smaller number of ship classes, ultimately ending up with four major classes: a Polar Icebreaker class; a Program Icebreaker class; multi-purpose vessels (which is a new class encompassing a number of vessel types, including Offshore Patrol Vessels, which will be consolidated); and the science vessel class which includes the Offshore Fisheries Science Vessel and the Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel.
“We are looking to have more diversified ships as opposed to those that are singular in their mission capabilities,” Wight said. “Looking at the future, we want to be able to accommodate different missions – for example, environmental response was not something that was on our radar to a large degree a number of years ago and not a lot of our ships are set up with tow winches or response capabilities, so we want to move to a more flexible, versatile type of ship.”
Citing the benefits of fewer classes, Wight pointed out that standardized training with the same equipment on board all of the ships would allow for crew to move from ship to ship and region to region and be confident that operations of each ship will be familiar.
With regards to the smaller vessels – the mid-shore patrol and search and rescue lifeboats – as well as CCG’s fleet of helicopters, the same principles are being applied.
As CCG undertakes the construction of the new vessels, Wight highlighted a number of key requirements: icebreaking; mission modularity to provide for increased flexibility on the use of vessels; ‘cradle to grave’ manufacturing processes and materials to provide for minimal impact on the environment (for example, noise reduction and lower emissions); and “function and diversity in the workplace” to provide for the ability to attract diversity in crew in terms of different sizes and different abilities of people.
Looking specifically at the National Shipbuilding Strategy, Wight listed off the vessels to be built in order at Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards: three Offshore Fisheries Science Vessel (with one already delivered and the other two underway); then one Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel; two Joint Support Ships will then be built for the Royal Canadian Navy; and finally, the Polar Icebreaker. In addition to the major vessels, up to 10 additional offshore patrol vessels and medium endurance multi-tasked vessels will be built.
Looking forward, Wight outlined both challenges – for example, integration of the new vessels into the fleet, including training and change-over – as well opportunities to get more people involved, such as other Coast Guards, universities or other industries, to study best practices for a number of areas, such as environmental sustainability.
There were a whopping 18 technical presentations over two days. Each provided engaging and relevant material as evidenced by robust discussions during question and answer periods. And each topic kept the conference theme of “Honing the Leading Edge” top of mind. To give just a few examples:
CIMarE Medal of Honour
Bert Blattmann, Chair of the National Council of CIMarE, had the great privilege of presenting the CIMarE Medal of Honour to Mr. William Jamer. In describing Jamer’s achievements in marine engineering, Blattmann highlighted his career in the Canadian Coast Guard, culminating in the role of Chief Engineer and his service in numerous regions and his exposure to many classes of vessels. From the CCG, Jamer moved over to Public Works (now known as Public Services and Procurement Canada) where he was involved in both inspections and contracting on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. His responsibilities included contracting for major refits and procurements of major services. Notably, he was eventually assigned as the head of National Marine Procurement in Ottawa, where he was involved in the Canadian Submarine Acquisition Program for the Navy. Following his retirement, Bill formed a consulting company and is called upon regularly for advice relating to marine issues.
Exhibits and networking
The trade show portion of Mari-Tech 2018 sold out very quickly in the weeks leading up to the event. Roughly 75 companies represented the many products and services that are relevant to the marine industry, and specifically to professional marine engineers. Notable displays included a sizeable Babcock Canada booth which saw significant traffic and 3GA Marine, who had a continual line up of people wanting to try out their 3D laser scanning system used for refit and maintenance projects.
Jastram Technologies used the opportunity of Mari-Tech 2018 to announce the new NightFINDERTM LED Night Vision System manufactured by Carlisle & Finch Co. The system is a new, low-power, long-range Infrared LED that changes total darkness to daylight on a camera monitor.
Not all displays were commercial in nature – Mercy Ships Canada, a charity which supports hospital ships that visit African communities, was there to encourage support from the local marine industry; government representatives from Canadian Coast Guard and Public Services and Procurement Canada were on hand to answer questions and engage attendees; and booths for the Canadian Institute of Marine Engineering and the Association of BC Marine Industries provided information on membership and association activities.
With upwards of 500 people in attendance, including registrants, exhibitors and speakers, it was a good thing there were many networking opportunities scheduled throughout the entire three-day event. Beginning with a Welcome Reception at the Sticky Wicket Pub, followed by breakfasts, refreshment breaks and lunches (all held within the exhibit area) and an evening event at the Royal BC Museum, attendees were able to catch up with old colleagues and make new acquaintances.
Of special note
No summary would be complete without acknowledging the hard work of those who spent months organizing the conference. From the selection of the Victoria Conference Centre as the venue, to developing the agenda, filling the trade show floor and getting ‘bums in the seats,’ the Planning Committee did an outstanding job. Chair Sam Johnson, along with Bill Wallace, Michael Weaver, Alicja Rudzki, Tony Cond, Hunter MacDonald, Bert Blattmann, Phil Dauphinee, Edward Camilleri, Martin Leduc and Ryan Nicholl are to be congratulated on their efforts. Assisted by Podium Conferences who lived up to their reputation for delivering on goals, Mari-Tech 2018 has set a new benchmark that subsequent CIMarE branches must now strive to meet.
On that note, Mari-Tech 2019 is already in the planning stages. Scheduled for April 23 – 25, 2019 in Ottawa, the theme has been set as “Full Speed Ahead: Firing on all Cylinders” and will challenge marine engineers to look past the status quo and consider new, inventive solutions for the most important issues facing marine engineering in Canada.